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The Prelim is a test taken during the third year of the PhD program. The exam consists of a 2-hour oral exam on two fields, taken no later than April 1 (a January 31 deadline is suggested) in the third year. English and Women’s and Gender Studies students will also register for WGS 891 Advanced Research during the winter of the third year and fall term of the fourth year and may take their exam at any time during the winter term of the third year up to April 1. WGS 891 will count as one of the four English 800-level seminars required for the completion of coursework.

When defining their fields, students are advised to delineate two broad areas in which they are committed to doing major research and teaching. Committee chairs and candidates should approach these fields as areas in which the candidate will need to be proficient in order to interview for jobs, to teach in their professionally defined area of expertise, and to do research during and after the dissertation period. The purpose of the fields exam is to assess such competence and to determine whether the student has or has not achieved it. Passing the exam will constitute a statement of qualification by the committee that is addressed to the student, to the department, and to the profession. Passing the exam will also qualify the student to proceed with the next stage of the program, namely the pre-prospectus and prospectus.

The English Graduate Office has extensive files of previous lists for students to consult. Please feel free to use them in compiling your own lists. These lists are also available in the following section of the English Department website (User login required): User Services: Resources: Graduate Mentoring Resources: English Department Forms.

The student’s prelims committee should be interdisciplinary and composed of four members with at least:

  • one faculty member affiliated with Women’s and Gender Studies
  • one faculty member affiliated with English
  • one faculty member with relevant expertise from any deparament